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Fan vote open for Veronica White Medal

NRLW stars Georgia Hale, Kezie Apps, Ali Brigginshaw and Simaima Taufa have been recognised for their community endeavours with nominations for the Veronica White Medal.

The equivalent of the men's Ken Stephen Medal for outstanding off-field work, the Veronica White Medal was introduced last year with Kiwi Ferns legend Honey Hireme-Smiler named the inaugural winner.

The Veronica White Medal is sponsored by Apprenticeship Careers Australia as part of the Kayo NRL Community Awards 2020.

White, who has been involved in the game for more than 25 years as a player, coach and administrator, was chosen as the namesake for the prestigious award from 60-plus nominations.

Hale is a first-time nominee while Apps (Dragons), Brigginshaw (Broncos) and Taufa (Roosters) were in the running in 2019. The women have been employed by their respective clubs in the community space.

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Fans are able to vote for their favourite nominee through an NRL.com poll. Voting closes at midnight on Monday, 19 October.

The medal recipient - to be decided by a panel chaired by NRL head of government and community relations Jaymes Boland-Rudder and featuring Veronica White, ARL commissioner Megan Davis, ARLIC chair Katrina Davis, women's elite general manager Tiffany Slater and representatives from Kayo and Apprenticeship Careers Australia - will be announced as part of grand final day at ANZ Stadium on October 25.

"The Veronica White Medal is more relevant in 2020 than ever before. Reflecting on such a tumultuous year in Australia and New Zealand through bushfires and COVID-19, the NRL is dedicated to recognising and celebrating the commitment NRLW players make to local communities," Slater said.

Brisbane captain Ali Brigginshaw.
Brisbane captain Ali Brigginshaw. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

"The inaugural winner, Honey Hireme, last year set a high bar for future medallists, and the four 2020 nominees have continued to go above and beyond in their community support and mirror the priorities and attitudes of so many players, coaches and volunteers within the women’s game."

Boland-Rudder added: "It has been a very challenging year, from the natural disasters that impacted Australia across January and February - especially for someone like Kezie who is from Bega, to watch her neighborhood on fire - to the droughts that continue to affect communities across the country.

"And through to now we're grappling with something none of us have ever experienced in a global pandemic. Yet in the challenges these women have continued to find ways to contribute and use their status within rugby league to make positive contributions to local communities.

"A judging panel will consider each application carefully but fans will also get an opportunity to have their say via a fan-vote process on NRL.com. I encourage everyone to log on and vote early, vote often and give their favourite player the best chance to win this prestigious award."

Warriors captain Georgia Hale.
Warriors captain Georgia Hale. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

2020 Veronica White Medal nominees

Extended biographies on the candidates

Ali Brigginshaw (Broncos)

Brigginshaw is a key part of the Beyond the Broncos mentoring team, helping to improve school attendance and year 12 attainment rates for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Always among the first to volunteer for community visits, Brigginshaw formed a special bond with young Charli Berghauser, who was diagnosed with a pineal cystic tumour, and went above and beyond to provide some special experiences.

Georgia Hale (Warriors) 

A champion sportswoman who has represented her country in four sports, Hale - the Warriors' community coordinator - was named the 2020 Young New Zealander of the Year on account of her exceptional off-field work. Hale routinely visits schools and has dedicated herself to helping children, rural communities, the intellectually disabled and a wide range of charities.

Roosters skipper Simaima Taufa
Roosters skipper Simaima Taufa ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Kezie Apps (Dragons)

Apps, who hails from Bega, was instrumental in St George Illawarra's bushfire relief tour to the south coast at the start of the year. The back-rower has been engaged in her club's "The Best You Can Be" health and wellbeing school program, leading and delivering a wide range of activities. She has also volunteered for an array of charities including the Fight Cancer Foundation and Illawarra Disability Trust - Score Dragons.

Simaima Taufa (Roosters)

Taufa worked on the Roosters' many community programs prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, spending 2-3 days each week involved in school and community outreach programs at grassroots clubs. A Voice Against Violence ambassador, Taufa has long been a role model. She lost her community employment with the Roosters due to COVID but has offered to volunteer her services in the future.